Last year Channel 4 caused a slight controversy when it presented the first series of The Undateables a show that looked at people with disabilities who were looking for love. As I said in my review of the first episode I think the name was a mistake but everything that followed was heart-warming stuff as we met people who wanted to find love as much as the rest of us but were just hampered by the fact they were differently-abled. When Channel 4 announced that they were recommissioning the series I was a little dubious, as I thought the first series told the story perfectly, and I wondered where exactly they could go with the show. Apparently the channel believes we want almost the exactly the same show so two of tonight’s subjects are very similar to those featured last year with only Sarah’s story providing the unique factor due to her incredible story.
Our first singleton is Michael who describes himself as a romantic and has a list of his ex-girlfriends which he runs through while telling us how long each relationship lasts. As 26 year old Michael is autistic he doesn’t really understand the rules of dating and often takes things too fast which ultimately scares off potential female interest. Though Michael lives in assisted accommodation his mother is a regular visitor and she informs us that Michael has wanted a girlfriend since he was young and she really hopes that he finds love. Michael has signed up to an internet dating site though he is wary of finding romance this way as he’s worried that the girl he’s talking to could in fact be a fact 60 year old Nigerian serial killer. In the end he gives speed dating a try and goes to an event run by Stars in the Sky an agency which helps people with conditions like Michael’s find love. Michael is instantly taken with Kirsty, the first girl he meets at speed dating, as they both share a love of the soap operas with Michael being annoyed that he only gets to talk to her for three minutes. After the event is over Michael finds Kirsty and tells her very bluntly that he’s interested in taking her out with the Stars in the Sky members agreeing to organise this meeting. Unfortunately Michael suffers a setback when Kirsty, who is only eighteen, tells him that she’s after someone a bit younger than him which in turn causes Michael to launch into a diatribe about how he’s ultimately going to end up on his own. Luckily there’s hope on the horizon when a lady named Helen agrees to date him and his mother helps out by taking him on a rehearsal date but I found that she was confusing him further when she told him to check the woman that sat down next to him was actually Helen. His mother gave him more advice for the date when she sent him a list of questions to ask which Michael actually got out during the date however instead of turning Helen away the questions did help to break the ice. Even though Michael was firmly in charge it seemed that Helen was charmed by his forward nature and the pair arranged a second date which I thought was rather sweet. Overall Michael struck me as someone who was a little intense but ultimately had a good heart and deserved love just as much as the next person.
21 year old Brent from Plymouth really reminded me of last year’s Undateable Luke as both were seemingly normal guys apart from the fact that they suffered from Tourette’s syndrome with their nervous ticks being incredibly off-putting to the opposite sex. Brent’s Tourette’s syndrome really flared up again after a break-up with his childhood sweetheart and the stress from their separation caused his ticks to become more violent. Brent’s friend and flatmate believed that if he were to find someone new in his life then his ticks would start to disappear once again. The fact was that even thinking about looking for love was stressing Brent out, the cameras being on him all the time couldn’t have helped either, and his meeting with a lady from the dating agency was a swear word filled affair. As his anticipation for the date grew his Tourette’s kicked in once again thankfully though once he met 19 year old barmaid Lizzie his nerves shattered. Brent and Lizzie really connected over a love of films and I personally was surprised that he didn’t walk out when she revealed that Prometheus was one of her favourite Sci-fi movies of all time. The fact that she had been pre-warned about his condition meant that she was able to put him at ease and told him that she could probably swear more than he could. What I wasn’t a fan of was their ‘impromptu snowboarding date’ which to me felt a little forced as if the producers needed more cute shots of Brent and Lizzie enjoying each other’s company. I did however feel like the pair had clicked and that hopefully Lizzie would help Brent with his condition and as we saw they’d already planned to get together for another date.
Though both Brent and Michael’s stories seemed like they were treading ground covered in the last series I was incredibly taken by 22 year old Sarah’s fascinating story and wanted to learn more about her. As we were told Sarah was once a lively girl and big things were predicted for her future outside of school however during her A-Levels and aged just 18 she suffered a stroke. Four years on and Sarah is still finding it hard to cope despite having a supportive mother and a good group of friends around her she’d developed a condition known as aphasia meaning that she found it hard to get words out. This also meant that she founded it hard doing things all of us take for granted such as texting or using Facebook both of which she needs her mother’s help with. It is her mother who also helps her navigate through the world of dating assisting her in constructing a message to Gary a young man who was interested in seeing her. Though Sarah does take Gary up on his offer of a date, which oddly takes place on a boat, the conversation predictably doesn’t really flow with Gary even having to use the cheesy ‘do you come here often?’ line. Eventually they bond over their love of the Olympics with her feeling able to confide in him about her condition and how it stops her from being able to talk freely. The sweetest part of Sarah’s story is when she is unable to order what she wants from a cafe menu so Gary sweeps in and orders ice cream for the two of them to share. Even though we learn little more about what happened next I do hope there is love in the air for Sarah and Gary as he really seemed to understand her and how difficult life was for her.
Once again I found it hard not to like The Undateables thanks mainly to the three central subjects who were thoroughly engaging throughout the course of the episode. The only problem was that I couldn’t help thinking I’d seen all this before and to me it didn’t have the freshness of the first series that really shed light on people who we don’t really see much of on the TV. However this time around I found some of the scenes a little more constructed with the two boys in particular being filmed when they were at their lowest. Thankfully then we had Sarah’s story which really engaged me as this was an extraordinary young woman who’d been through so much and just wanted to experience the same thing as girls of her age would. I personally thought there was enough scope for a documentary solely devoted to Sarah, which I believe would be perfect for BBC3, as she deserved more than simply being a third of this programme. Again Channel 4 didn’t give us any follow up about Sarah, Michael or Brent and whether they went on to have proper relationships with their dates and I do hope that we get an extra episode at the end of this series that shows us how all three are getting on though I won’t hold my breath. Ultimately The Undateables is once again a likeable showcase for those whose quest for love isn’t documented all that much however I did find it was almost a re-tread of the first series apart from the focus on Sarah’s remarkable story.
Did you enjoy this new series of The Undateables? What did you think of those involved? Leave Your Comments Below.